Switzerland has ordered restaurants, bars and shops to close down from 7pm across much of the nation, the government said on Friday, as the country continues to face a persistently high level of COVID-19 infections and deaths. The government said regions less badly hit by the pandemic would still be allowed to have locations open until 11pm, in the measures which go into effect on Saturday. The exception would apply to cantons which had a virus reproduction rate below 1 and an infection incidence below the national average over at least a week. The measures, decided after discussions between the government and local authorities, also affect events and cultural activities which have been restricted to groups of five people. “The level of infections with the coronavirus remains high and in some cantons is rising again,” the government said in a statement. “Hospitals are close to their limits and health personnel are under pressure. The situation is disturbing.” On Friday, authorities reported 5,136 new cases and 106 more deaths in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein. Switzerland has been trying to steer a middle course between shutting down the economy and preventing the spread of the virus. But so far the strategy has had mixed results, with the number of infections much higher than during the first outbreak in March and April. Infection rates have once again begun to rise, after a drop off since early November. The new restrictions, which come into effect on Saturday, run until January 22. The government also said on Friday it would increase its compensation fund for hard hit companies by 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.69 billion)to 2.5 billion francs.